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England pile on 537 in 1st India Test

Press AssociationPress Association 10/11/2016

Ben Stokes has ridden his luck to hit the third century in England's 537 before the tourists' bowlers quickly discovered how hard it might be to take 20 Indian wickets for victory in Rajkot.

Joe Root, the first of England's centurions, projected at close of play on day one that this first Test of five might go into fast-forward as the pitch begins to deteriorate.

But there was no obvious sign of an early start to that yet as India's reply reached 0-63 in a shortened evening session on Thursday.

Moeen Ali (117) needed just a single to add his hundred to Root's, and duly scampered it from the third ball of the morning.

Then Stokes (128), who shared a damaging sixth-wicket stand of 99 in just 21.1 overs with Jonny Bairstow, made sure England built on their encouraging position.

It was only the second time England have had three individual hundreds in the same innings in Asia, the previous in Kanpur 55 years ago, and not since Cardiff in 2011 against Sri Lanka have they managed the feat anywhere.

Stokes' previous three Test innings against India were ducks, and he reached three figures from 173 balls in his fourth attempt, having hit 12 fours and a six.

Moeen counted nine fours in his four-hour milestone, and in the next over from Umesh Yadav he added three more in four balls.

But he was to pay for a misjudgment against Mohammad Shami, getting his angles wrong and leaving one from around the wicket that knocked out the off-stump.

After a fifth-wicket stand of 62 with Moeen, Stokes' new partner Bairstow soon announced his intent by hitting leg-spinner Amit Mishra straight for six.

There were two escapes in successive Yadav overs for Stokes, on 60 and 61, when wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha failed to hold diving chances after the left-hander toe-ended attempted cuts at wide deliveries.

That took India's tally of missed catches to five but Saha took his next chance when Bairstow went after another wide one from Shami to depart for a rapid 46.

Murali Vijay could not hold on at long-on off Mishra, without toppling over the boundary, as Stokes doubled his six tally on 110 and England ploughed on past 500.

The deserving Yadav finally got Stokes, caught down the leg-side just before the scheduled end of the afternoon session, and England were all out when Zafar Ansari was lbw sweeping at Mishra for 32 - leaving Stuart Broad unbeaten on six after being relegated to No.11 in his 100th Test.

Stokes was limping and stretching in the latter stages of his innings, the England camp explaining he was suffering with cramp.

Murali Vijay (25 not out) and Gautam Gambhir (28no) suffered no obvious alarms in their unbroken opening stand.

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